By lex, on October 8th, 2007
Your correspondent, being an employee of the federal, was happy to take the day with pay today. The rest of the family must ought to report to their several places of education and employment, the state of California having decided in the last several that perhaps Christobal Colon was not quite the thing. He didn’t discover anything you see – there were people already living here and every culture is exactly the equivalent of every other.
Teaching history has always been a difficult task. I would say that the people – professors or writers, who can do this right is a very small minority.
“Doing it right” is more than just reciting names and dates. It involves taking the people, whether considered historical or simply ancillary, and bringing them to life in the eyes of the reader or student. One not only has to bring the people back to life, but show the circumstances of the times that they were in. Each is equally important.
By lex, on October 3rd, 2007
Fleet operations in the Southern California op-area during the late 80′s, and your humble scribe was on the LSO platform, basking in the summer sun and topping it the grandee, on account of the pickle which he held in hand.
(And may I add parenthetically that, if you yourself, gentle reader, were to go a-Googling for images under the term “LSO pickle” then I abjure to ensure that some class of “safe search” is first enabled in preferences before you get to page 3. You’re going to want to trust me on this.)
By lex, on September 27th, 2007
It is often said in multi-seat aviation that you should never fly in the same cockpit with someone braver than yourself. A pilot should be a little bit afraid. We are but soft and vulnerable creatures: Our evolution has not kept pace with our technology, we were never meant to move through space at such enormous speeds. Our craft are fragile things, each added ounce resented by the engineers who create them, and the whole construct cobbled together built by the lowest qualified bidder. We routinely operate our machines at the borders of our understanding of physics and aerodynamics. And the earth is so unyielding.
By lex, on September 26th, 2007
Every job has its aggravations of course, but apart from specialized jobs within the services, firefighters and police, there are few, I think that require the daily mastery of physical fear. Carrier aviation certainly does, at least in the beginning when an aviator is first building the shell of self-confidence to hermetically surround and enclose his anxieties. It’s really, really hard and you have to do it fairly precisely. Not everyone is equally successful. Not with the flying part. Not with the fear.
Map Courtesy of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
I have always enjoyed history, and also delving into “what if’s” how history would have changed but for something in the time line.
It is May, 1945 and the Nazis have surrendered. That same month, the Joint Chiefs met for approval for the plans , overall called Operation Downfall, to invade Japan. It was to start on the island of Kyushu. There were a lot of GIs in the ETO wondering if they were going to be able go home or head to the Pacific and fight Japanese. It all depended on how many points you had accrued during your service.
By lex, on September 24th, 2007
It may be hard to imagine today, but when I was a lad an entire generation of naval aviators had grown up to fill middle and even upper leadership roles in line squadrons without ever having “seen the wolf.” The long peace between Vietnam and Desert Storm meant that nearly 20 years had gone by with little more than the occasional drive by shooting.
My first CO was a Vietnam vet, as was his XO. After that were a long succession of folks who’d never been in actual combat. It was all too possible in that environment to get a “blue bomb” mentality.